LALITPUR, Sept 2: Wearing a white swimming cap with the flag of Nepal, Sirish Gurung comes out of the training pool at International Sports Complex in Satdobato. An over-achiever at the age of 15, Gurung is soft spoken and shy. But, his talents speak on his behalf.
Gurung has been in the limelight lately for two of his passions; swimming and music, both of which, he picked up when he was just five-years-old.
At that very age, he was also in the news for successfully driving a four-wheeler. “I used to watch my sisters learn driving and I got interested. I listened carefully to the instructions and learnt how to work the gears.
Then, my uncle taught me how to actually drive,” recalls Gurung. His interest in swimming, he says, developed on the process of just playing for the sake of it. “I used to go to the Nepal Police Club and just play around in the pool at first. Then I began training and take part in inter-school swimming competitions,” he says.
From inter-school swimming competitions, Gurung moved on to compete at a National level with the 5th National Games in 2009 and today, is a national record-holder in swimming. The record seemed to be his present to himself as he stepped on his 15th year.
“This was something that I really wanted to do. I was very happy. And, it was my birthday, just the next day,” smiles Gurung who mentions that breaking the record was not an easy task for him as it required a lot of stamina. He completed 1,500m freestyle at the record time of 19:48.16 minutes in the 17th National Open and Age-group Swimming Championships beating the record of 23:12.38 minutes previously held by Jay Prakash Gurung in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in 1984.
When it comes to music, Gurung is particularly interested in playing the keyboard. He was recently seen on stage with Phatteman Rajbhandari at a musical event ‘Sirish Phatteman Sanjha’. He has two musical albums, ‘Sirish ko Dhun’ and ‘Aawaz’ under his belt too.
With so much of extra-curricular involvement, Gurung still manages to score good grades. “I manage to get over 90 per cent in school,” he says pointing out that it is all about time management. “I practice two hours in the morning before school and if I have musical performances then after school or I just directly come for my swimming training. I practice two hours every day and finish my school assignments once I reach home. I spend the rest of my time watching television and using the internet,” Gurung lays out his time-table, adding, “I have fun with my friends on Saturdays.”
Currently a student in class 10 at Kendriya Vidhyalaya, he has not decided a career path yet. However, he has him ambitions set when it comes to swimming. “I want to bring home medals for my country in the SAF games,” he says. He is positive that he will at least bring home the bronze when he competes. “My coach said that I have pretty good chances,” shares Gurung.
“Nepali national swimmers only get to train for six months as we don’t have heated pools and training in winters is impossible,” complains Gurung, “Whereas we should be training day and night every day to match the international standards.” He also mentions that Nepalis also have the disadvantage of height. Micheal Phelps, the now retired American swimmer, is Gurung’s inspiration.
When asked about his diverse talents, he says, “It was because of my curiosity. When I was small, I wanted to do everything I saw.” It was also easier for Gurung because his family supported him well and never discouraged him from pursuing his interests out of academics.
“As young people we should not waste time,” says Gurung. Excelling at different fronts, be it academics, sports or music, Gurung has set an example for Nepali youths and has proved that where there is passion, 24 hours a day is enough.